New taping and livestreams: Turnpike Troubadours and Dan Auerbach

photo by David McClister

Austin City Limits is thrilled to announce our final taping of Season 43 with Oklahoma country rockers Turnpike Troubadours. The breakout band will hit the ACL stage on December 5 for a debut taping that will also be streamed live around the world. Speaking of livestreams, we’re also stoked to say that we’ll be doing the same for Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach’s taping on November 27. Auerbach will also be joined during the set by a very special guest, Louisiana soul singer Robert Finley, the first signing to his Easy Eye Sound record label.  Both tapings will stream at 8pm CT/9 pm ET, Dan Auerbach here on November 27 and Turnpike Troubadours here on December 5, powered by Dell.  

Called “the greatest country music band in the world right now” by Saving Country Music, the Turnpike Troubadours make their ACL debut in support of their fourth album A Long Way From Your Heart. Produced by Grammy winner Ryan Hewitt (The Avett Brothers, Red Hot Chili Peppers), Heart is a rare triumph––an album that hooks immediately but then rewards listeners willing to dig deeper. “I love what we as a band have turned into and how we treat songs,” says lead singer and chief songwriter Evan Felker. “That’s something we’ve grown into––adding some sort of oddly theatrical element to the musicianship to help the story along, to sum up where or who the character is to give him a little bit of landscape. It’s not just an acoustic guitar and a guy telling you what somebody’s doing.” Born in Okemah, Oklahoma, birthplace of Woody Guthrie and Troubadours pal John Fullbright, Felker founded his band of virtuosic country-rock road dogs in 2005. Since then, the Troubadours have delivered punch after punch of smart rock & roll that sells out huge venues throughout the Midwest and South and packs legendary haunts like the Troubadour in Los Angeles. “Felker has evolved into a Red Dirt Springsteen, deftly blending autobiographical elements with complex, hardscrabble characters,” raves Garden & Gun. Narratives put to music are nothing new, but Felker and his bandmates have upped the ante, creating a web of unforgettable characters that show up on album after album in songs that are both catchy and musically complex: men and women with their backs against their wall, represented realistically but also imbued with dignity. “It feels like going home to see that those characters are still alive in a way that movies and literary writers have always done,” Felker says. “It feels good.”

photo by Alyssa Gafkjen

Dan Auerbach has performed on ACL twice before with his band The Black Keys, and this will be his first time performing solo on the program where he will be backed by some of Nashville’s finest musicians—Bobby Wood, Gene “Bubba” Chrisman, Pat McLaughlin, Dave Roe, Russ Pahl, Ray Jacildo, Ashley Wilcoxson, Leisa Hans, Nick Bockrath from Cage the Elephant—as well as featuring legendary bluesman Robert Finley.  The eight-time Grammy winning superstar will perform songs from his acclaimed new solo release Waiting On A Song.  NPR calls the album “a batch of sparkling pop songs that’s sweet, breezy, and primed for summer.” The album is Auerbach’s follow-up to 2009’s Keep It Hid and is his love letter to Nashville. As such, he recruited some of Na­shville’s most respected players to write and record his latest. “Living in Nashville has definitely changed the way I think about music and the way that I record it,” he says about working with his heroes. “I didn’t have all of these resources before. I am working with some of the greatest musicians that ever lived.” The always-understated musician is happy to have his own version of the Wrecking Crew at his Easy Eye Studio in south Nashville. “Sometimes I feel I created my own Field of Dreams. I built the studio to accommodate live musicians playing, and then all of a sudden the best musicians in Nashville show up, and it’s happening. This is the sound I was looking for, and now there really is an Easy Eye sound. It’s a factory—but in the way that Motown or Stax or American Studios was a factory. Anything can happen, any day.” He pauses a long minute, as if to let it all sink in. “Even with the success I’ve had, it’s only just now that I’m finally finding myself,” Auerbach says. “I called the album Waiting On A Song because I’ve been waiting my whole life to be able to do this. And now I have. And none of us ever want it to stop.”

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings. Or you can join us online for Dan Auerbach here on November 27 and Turnpike Troubadours here on December 5 for these full-set livestreams. The broadcast versions will air on PBS early next year as part of our Season 43.

 

New taping: Dan Auerbach

photo by Alysse Gafkjen

Austin City Limits is happy to announce a new taping with The Black Keys/Arcs singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach in support of his acclaimed new solo album Waiting On a Song. The eight-time Grammy winning artist, a two-time ACL veteran with superstars The Black Keys, makes his highly-anticipated solo debut on Monday, November 27.

NPR calls Waiting On A Song “a batch of sparkling pop songs that’s sweet, breezy, and primed for summer. The album is Auerbach’s follow-up to 2009’s Keep It Hid and is his love letter to Nashville. As such, he recruited some of Na­shville’s most respected players to write and record his latest, including John Prine, Duane Eddy, Jerry Douglas, Russ Pahl, Pat McLaughlin as well as Bobby Wood and Gene Chrisman of the Memphis Boys. Auerbach said about working with his musical heroes: “Living in Nashville has definitely changed the way I think about music and the way that I record it. I didn’t have all of these resources before. I am working with some of the greatest musicians that ever lived.”

“Sometimes I feel I created my own Field of Dreams. I built the studio to accommodate live musicians playing, and then all of a sudden the best musicians in Nashville show up, and it’s happening.” The always-understated musician is happy to have his own version of the Wrecking Crew at his Easy Eye Studio in south Nashville. “This is the sound I was looking for, and now there really is an Easy Eye sound. It’s a factory—but in the way that Motown or Stax or American Studios was a factory. Anything can happen, any day.” He pauses a long minute, as if to let it all sink in. The dream realized. “Even with the success I’ve had, it’s only just now that I’m finally finding myself,” Auerbach says. “I called the album Waiting On A Song because I’ve been waiting my whole life to be able to do this. And now I have. And none of us ever want it to stop.”

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New tapings: Run The Jewels, Chris Stapleton, LCD Soundsystem and Shinyribs

photo by Dan Medhurst

Austin City Limits kicks off Season 43 October 7 on PBS and we are excited to announce a bounty of new fall tapings, featuring some of today’s most thrilling live acts joining this season’s broadcast line-up.

On Oct. 14, we open our doors to rap giants Run The Jewels. On Oct. 23, we welcome country superstar Chris Stapleton. Oct. 29 brings Austin hometown heroes Shinyribs, while Nov. 1 welcomes alt.rock icons LCD Soundsystem.  All four acts are making their ACL debuts.

Well known for their massively energetic live sets, Run The Jewels make their ACL debut in support of their third album, the aptly-titled Run The Jewels 3. El-­P and Killer Mike, two of the most distinctive and celebrated names in rap, might have seemed like an unlikely pairing on paper, but the duo subverted and pulverized all expectations with their critically lauded Run The Jewels collaborative LP in 2013. Tapping into the creative synergy they’d discovered in 2012 on Mike’s R.A.P. Music album (produced by El-­P) and El’s Cancer 4 Cure album (featuring Mike), Run The Jewels cemented their musical alliance with a set of uncompromisingly raw, forward thinking hip-­hop, garnering limitless critical accolades including the likes of Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, XXL, SPIN, New York Times, and many more. Uncut calls Run The Jewels 3 “the pair’s most focused and mature work to date,” while DIY says it’s “in equal parts an unequivocal call to arms and an excitable ode to a wonderful friendship.” New Musical Express comments, “There’s tons of fun to be had from absorbing the duo’s fury, and El-P’s sci-fi beats are as thrillingly big ‘n’ bad as ever,” while The Wire simply notes, “Every track is a killer.” Vice insists that RTJ is “funnier, hookier, and kinder as well as brainier and more political” than before, while AllMusic proclaims “They’re so good at this that it seems almost unfair in its effortlessness.” Witness it for yourself on Oct. 14.  

photo by Andy Barron

Kentucky-born musician Chris Stapleton is one of Nashville’s most respected and beloved musicians. Since releasing his now double Platinum debut solo album Traveller in 2015, Stapleton has received multiple Grammy, CMA and ACM Awards and remains one of the most critically praised musicians of his time. His sophomore follow up, From A Room: Volume 1, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart upon its release and, with it’s Gold certification, remains the strongest-selling country album of 2017. Rolling Stone calls the album “strikingly focused, sonically and thematically” while The New York Times praises, “Like Traveller, From A Room is earthen, rich with tradition, has a tactile intensity and is carefully measured.” A second album, From A Room: Volume 2, will be released later this year. More details to be announced soon. In celebration of the music, “Chris Stapleton’s All-American Road Show” tour is currently underway and will span throughout 2017. Of a recent performance, the Seattle Times declared, “Stapleton dazzled the sold-out crowd with a barrage of songs that defy easy categorization while receiving the kind of deafening cheers reserved for superstars.” Come see for yourself on October 23.

photo by Wyatt McSpadden

Led by Beaumont, Texas native Kevin Russell, who last appeared on ACL in 2007 with the Gourds, Austin’s Shinyribs began as a side project in 2007 before becoming Russell’s full-time concern following the Gourds’ dissolution in 2013. This year, the now eight-person Shinyribs dosed fans with the exuberant swamp-pop soul-funk of their fourth release, I Got Your Medicine. Tracked at Houston’s legendary Sugar Hill Recording Studios, it carries a New Orleans R&B vibe — with extra gris-gris added by Russell’s co-producer, Jimbo Mathus, late of the Squirrel Nut Zippers. AllMusic calls the album “funny, heartfelt, and dirty, a retro-soul album that never feels stuck in the past,” while the Austin American Statesman names it as one of 2017’s best albums so far. The band puts a gospel groove on “Don’t Leave It a Lie,” and throw several retro influences into Ted Hawkins’ “I Gave Up All I Had.” The syncopated sexiness of “A Certain Girl,” an Allen Toussaint cover, a gorgeous rendering of the Toussaint McCall/Patrick Robinson ballad “Nothing Takes the Place of You” and the bluesy “I Knew It All Along,” Russell’s very-successful attempt to write “just a real good done-me-wrong soul song,” are equally captivating. “Tub Gut Stomp and Red-eyed Soul” gets its title from Russell’s definition of his musical style; an energetic N’awlins romper, it’s filled with “freak-out juice” and “Jimbo stew.” Gospel rave-up “The Cross Is Boss” puts a clever, slightly satirical finish on the affair; Russell says the song — like the album — is meant as a reminder that not every issue has to be taken so seriously. “A lot of people are so tightly wound, they can’t let themselves go,” he says. “I can demonstrate to them that you can shake your hips, roll around on the floor, scream and shout, and it’s OK: people will still accept you. It’s just music; relax and have some fun.” Join the party on Oct. 29.

photo by Ruvan Wijesooriya

LCD Soundsystem makes its Austin City Limits TV debut in the wake of its fourth LP and first #1 album, American Dream. James Murphy founded LCD Soundsystem in 2002, releasing the classic 12-inch single “Losing My Edge,” a relentless groove topped with a monologue cataloguing the trendsetting bands and rare records discovered by its protagonist in his younger, cooler prime. LCD’s self-titled debut album followed in 2005, featuring “Losing My Edge,” “Movement,” and the Grammy-nominated “Daft Punk is Playing in My House.” 2007’s Grammy-nominated Sound of Silver became the most critically-acclaimed album of that year on the strength of the anthemic “All My Friends”–hailed by Time magazine as one of the 10 Best Songs of 2007 and covered in tribute by the likes of John Cale and Franz Ferdinand—as well as “Someone Great,” “Get Innocuous!” and “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down.” Featuring “Dance Yrself Clean,” “I Can Change” and “Home,” LCD Soundsystem’s third album, 2010’s This is Happening was the band’s first to break the U.S. Top 10. This Is Happening was supported by a massive world tour culminating in a marathon farewell show at Madison Square Garden, documented by the feature film Shut Up and Play the Hits and the audio compendium The Long Goodbye. LCD Soundsystem marked the end of its hiatus with the surprise 2015 “Christmas Will Break Your Heart” holiday single, followed by a 2016 tour featuring headline appearances at Coachella, Lollapalooza and more. On September 1, 2017 the band released “the timeless, intricate album James Murphy’s fans always wanted but never expected” (Esquire): American Dream. Preceded by the singles “Call the Police,” “American Dream” and “Tonite,” American Dream moved Rolling Stone to rave They signed off after three of this century’s finest albums… American Dream is on the same level,” while Entertainment Weekly hailed the record as “exactly the album 2017 needs—urgent, angry, achingly self-aware. And catchy as hell, too.” See and hear why on Nov. 1.  

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New taping: Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires

photo by Danny Clinch

Austin City Limits is happy to announce a rare double shoot on August 21, featuring top-notch Americana with Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Amanda Shires.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s acclaimed new album, The Nashville Sound, is a beautiful piece of American music-making. As with Isbell’s 2013 breakthrough, Southeastern (which Isbell showcased on his debut ACL appearance in Season 39) and his double-Grammy-winning follow up, 2015’s Something More Than Free, The Nashville Sound was produced by Dave Cobb. Isbell says that he and Cobb created a simple litmus test for the decisions they made in the two weeks they spent at RCA Studios (which was known as “The home of the Nashville Sound” back in the ’60’s and ’70s): they only made sonic moves that their heroes from back in the day could’ve made, but simply never did. It’s a shrewd approach—an honest way to keep the wiz-bang of modern recording technology at arm’s length, while also leaving the old bag of retro rock ’n’ roll tricks un-rummaged. It’s also the best way to keep the spotlight on Isbell’s stock-in-trade: great songs. Simply put, Isbell has a gift for taking big, messy human experiences and compressing them into badass little combustible packages made of rhythm, melody and madly efficient language. The songs are full of little hooks—it could be guitar line that catches one listener, or a quick lyric that strikes to the heart of another—and an act of transference takes place. The stories Isbell tells become our own. The music is coming not from Jason and the band, but from within us. Lyrically, The Nashville Sound is timely. Musically, it is timeless.

photo by Josh Wool

photo by Josh Wool

Texas native Amanda Shires began her career as a teenager playing fiddle with the Texas Playboys. Since then, she’s toured and recorded with John Prine, Billy Joe Shaver, Todd Snider, Justin Townes Earle, Shovels & Rope, and most recently her husband and creative collaborator Jason Isbell, with whom she first-appeared on ACL in 2013. Along the way she’s made three solo albums, each serving to document a particular period in her life while improving on the perceptive qualities of the previous record. The songs on her latest My Piece Of Land deal with family, anxiety, and the phases of one young woman’s life, but the primary focus is the concept of home. Shires addresses the similarities and differences between the home she was born into, the two homes she was eventually split between, and the home she has finally made for herself. She recorded the album under the guidance of producer Dave Cobb at his Low Country Sound studio. Cobb believes in the spontaneity of early takes, and with the proficient rhythm section of Paul Slivka and Paul Griffith, the studio band was able to record the album in a relatively short amount of time without sacrificing performance quality. This approach gives each song on the album emotional urgency along with a groove that’s loose and effortless. With My Piece Of Land, Amanda Shires has reached a personal pinnacle. This album is the creative milestone suited to accompany the recent milestones in her life: becoming a mother, developing into a true artist, and finally finding a home.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New tapings: Ed Sheeran, Father John Misty and Herbie Hancock

photo by Greg Williams

Austin City Limits is excited to announce upcoming tapings with a trio of music’s finest.  UK superstar Ed Sheeran returns on August 20 for his second Austin City Limits appearance, supporting his chart-topping new album ÷. Indie rock star Father John Misty arrives on August 22 making his ACL debut, in support of his third album Pure Comedy and iconic Herbie Hancock makes his long-awaited ACL debut on October 12.

Ed Sheeran – an eleven-time Grammy nominee and multiple Grammy winner – has quickly established himself as one of music’s biggest acts with over 22 million albums sold and 4.7 billion Spotify streams. His latest release ÷ (pronounced “divide”) debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts and finds the 26-year-old sensation in his finest form yet. Drawing inspiration from a wide array of experiences and subjects, Sheeran takes us through a hugely personal journey by reflecting on past relationships, family memories, his musical career and his time off traveling the world in 2016. Musically, ÷ is a varied collection of beautifully orchestrated and emotive ballads, impassioned raps laid over hip hop beats, timeless acoustic guitar masterpieces, and innovative, idiosyncratic pop music. Rolling Stone notes that “Sheeran’s musical history lesson is both well-timed and rip-roaringly fun,” while The New York Times calls it “a batteries-fully-charged assault on the pop charts from a performer skilled in musical osmosis.” Sheeran made chart history this year with the first two singles from ÷, “Shape Of You” and “Castle On The Hill,” debuting at #1 and #6 respectively on Billboard’s Hot 100, making him the first artist in the chart’s 58-year history ever to debut two singles in the top 10 simultaneously.  Sheeran continues to break records, with lead single “Shape Of You” recently becoming the third song ever to hit an incredible 1 billion streams on Spotify.  His follow-up single “Castle On The Hill” has logged over 185 million views on YouTube and has already begun its ascent up the charts.  This June, Sheeran received the prestigious Hal David Starlight Award from the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.  

photo by Guy Lowndes

photo by Guy Lowndes

The erstwhile Josh Tillman (under which name he first appeared on ACL in 2012 as drummer for Fleet Foxes) grew up in Rockville, Maryland. Discovered in Seattle by singer/songwriter Damien Jurado, he began touring and making records, releasing eight under his own name and joining Fleet Foxes for the recording and touring cycle of 2011’s Helplessness Blues. As Father John Misty, he gained immediate attention with 2012’s Fear Fun, solidifying the status of his lyric-heavy, melodic folk rock with 2015’s I Love You, Honeybear. Misty’s artistry comes to a head on the madly ambitious new album Pure Comedy. Inspired by the chaos and uncertainty of modern life, Misty writes “about the dubious privilege of being here, the elusiveness of meaning, true love and its habitual absence, random euphoria and the inexplicable misery of others, truth and its more alluring counterfeits, the sophistication of answers that don’t make any sense, the barbarism of our appetites, lucky breaks and injustice, faith and ignorance, crippling, mind-numbing boredom, and the terror of it all ending too soon.” Heady stuff, wrapped in lyrical wit and the kind of melodies Harry Nilsson would’ve killed to write. “This is a big-idea album in a way none of his work was before,” notes Paste, while Exclaim says that it’s “packed with so much meaning and complexity, it feels as overwhelmingly absurd, joyous, curious, tragic, extraordinary and contradictory as life itself.” Under the Radar puts it far more simply: “Pure Comedy is big and clever, and oh so very brilliant.”

Herbie Hancock for blogSix decades into an extraordinary career, 14-time GRAMMY Award winner Herbie Hancock remains at the forefront of world culture, technology, business and music. In addition to being recognized as a legendary pianist and composer, the ardent music ambassador has been an integral part of every popular music movement since the 1960s. As a member of the Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet, he pioneered a groundbreaking sound in jazz. He also developed new approaches on his own classic ‘60s recordings like Maiden Voyage, followed by his work in the ‘70s with record-breaking albums such as Head Hunters, combining electric jazz with funk and rock in an innovative style that continues to influence contemporary music. His trailblazing 1983 cross-over smash “Rockit,” an early hip-hop touchstone, is considered one of the first songs to feature “scratching,” and with the album Future Shock marked Hancock’s foray into electronic dance sounds; during the same period he also continued to work in an acoustic setting with V.S.O.P., which included ex-Miles Davis bandmates Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. Hancock received an Academy Award for his Round Midnight film score and fourteen Grammy Awards, including Album Of The Year for River: The Joni Letters – only the second jazz album in the Recording Academy’s history to ever receive that award – and two Grammy Awards for 2011’s globally collaborative CD The Imagine Project. He was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor in 2013, published his memoir Herbie Hancock: Possibilities in 2014 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. Many of his compositions, including “Cantaloupe Island,” “Maiden Voyage,” “Watermelon Man” (a tune from his first album that has been recorded over 200 times) and “Chameleon,” are modern standards. Hancock will be touring across the globe this summer and fall and is currently at work on a new studio album.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New taping: The Black Angels

photo by Sandy Carson

Austin City Limits is thrilled to welcome back hometown heroes The Black Angels on May 23rd for their second ACL taping, armed with a powerful new record Death Song.

Death Song is the Austin psych rock masters’ first full-length release in four years, and their debut for Partisan Records. NPR raves, “The Black Angels have delivered an enormous and frighteningly timely fifth album full of uniquely trippy anthems to oblivion.”  Written and recorded in large part during the recent election cycle, the music serves as part protest, part emotional catharsis in a climate dominated by division, anxiety and unease. “Currency,” a strong contender for the heaviest song the band has ever put to wax, meditates on the governing role the monetary system plays in our lives.  Album highlight “Half Believing,” the track Texas Monthly calls “a turning point for the band,” is a slow-building stunner that questions the nature and confusing realities of devotion. Recorded between Seattle and Austin, ‘Death Song’ features production from Phil Ek (Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes, The Shins). The eleven-track collection offers a sharply honed elaboration on their signature sound – menacing fuzz guitar and cutting wordplay, steeped in a murky hallucinatory dream.  Classic Rock says Death Song “is their heaviest to date, a toxic draught of garage-rock and booming psychedelia that buzzes with echo and reverb,” while A.V. Club claims “confirms there’s no end to the kinds of hurt and frustration that can be channeled into its cathartic music.”

Since forming in Austin in 2004, The Black Angels have become standard-bearers for modern psych-rock, and the New York Times has said they “play psychedelic rock as if the 1960s never ended, and they are absolute masters of it.” The band’s 2010 breakthrough Phosphene Dream launched the Austin collective onto the world stage, drawing massive audiences for their scorched earth live shows and touring with Queens of the Stone Age, Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Black Keys and more, and landing on festival stages including Glastonbury, Fuji Rock, Primavera, Harvest Fest, Coachella, Bonnaroo, Fun Fun Fun Fest and, of course, Austin City Limits Music Festival. Two of the band members co-founded Levitation Festival (formerly Austin Psych Fest) in 2008, which has since grown into one of the best-reviewed and expertly-curated festivals in the country. The Black Angels made a stellar ACL debut in 2013 and we look forward to their return.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

NEW TAPINGS: ZAC BROWN BAND, ANGEL OLSEN, BENJAMIN BOOKER

photo by Danny Clinch

Austin City Limits continues its mission of presenting music’s best and brightest with new Season 43 tapings from Zac Brown Band on August 3, Angel Olsen on July 25 and Benjamin Booker on April 27, all making their ACL debuts.

Three-time GRAMMY Award-winning multi-platinum artists Zac Brown Band will tape their first-ever ACL appearance August 3, on the heels of their highly-anticipated new release WELCOME HOME, the band’s upcoming album out May 12, and their first release on Southern Ground/ Elektra Records. Produced by GRAMMY Award-winning producer Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell) and In The Arena Productions, and recorded at Southern Ground Nashville Studio, WELCOME HOME is what the band calls not only a return to their roots, but also a return to The Foundation, the band’s 2008 breakthrough debut that is now 5X platinum. 2016 was a record-breaking year for Zac Brown Band. Their “Black Out the Sun” tour broke attendance records at Camden’s BB&T Pavilion and Boston’s Fenway Park, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum hosted a career-spanning exhibition exploring the group’s rise to fame. All this built on the group’s three platinum-selling albums (Uncaged, You Get What You Give, and Jekyll + Hyde), 5x platinum The Foundation, their 2013 project The Grohl Sessions Vol. 1, 25 million singles and eight million albums sold, and a historic fifteen #1 radio singles, along with the distinction of becoming the second act ever to top both the country and active rock formats.

photo by Amanda Marsalis

An artist who reigns over the land between being an elliptical outsider and a pop personality with a haunting obliqueness and sophisticated grace, Angel Olsen hits our stage in celebration of her third LP My Woman, which Uncut calls “another giant progression in an already distinguished career.” The St. Louis native began her journey in Chicago as a backing vocalist for Bonnie Prince Billy, but her talent soon manifested in her first EP Strange Cacti and album Half Way Home in 2012. Signing to respected indie Jagjaguwar, Olsen released 2014’s Burn Your Fire For No Witness to great fanfare, setting the stage for My Woman. Recorded with producer Justin Raisen (Charlie XCX, Santigold) after her relocation to Asheville, NC, the record expands on the reverb-shrouded poetic swoons, shadowy folk and grunge-pop workouts of her previous work via 70s country rock, vintage electronic pop and languid psychedelic soul. “These are controlled, tempered, well-steered songs, capable of navigating genres,” notes Q. An intuitively smart, warmly communicative and fearlessly generous record, My Woman speaks to everyone. “Contradictory, complex, and worthy of endless re-listens,” says DIY, “Angel Olsen has crafted her most compelling record to date.”

Singer, songwriter, guitarist and rocker Benjamin Booker comes to ACL in advance of his greatly anticipated sophomore platter Witness, out in June. With Witness, the New Orleans-based Booker has created his most ambitious work yet by digging deep into his passion for eccentric soul, R&B, and blues – drawing on everything from William Onyeabor’s 70s African psych-rock to Freddie Gibbs and Pusha T, while never straying too far from the garage-punk intensity that made his self-titled 2014 debut such a creative breakthrough. Born in Virginia Beach and raised in Tampa, Booker attended a magnet school for the arts before matriculating at the University of Florida, studying music journalism. After self-releasing his 2012 EP Waiting Ones, he signed to ATO, who released his eponymous debut in 2014. “Singing with a maturity beyond his years,” said The Guardian about the critically-adored LP, “he crafts hooks that pay homage to Robert Johnson, Sam Cooke and the shambolic punk he grew up listening to.” Following the album’s release, Booker hit the road and the festival circuit, touring with Jack White and Courtney Barnett and playing the Austin City Limits Music Festival and Lollapalooza. Now Booker is ready to unleash Witness on the world, preceded by the title track, released as a single and featuring gospel legend and ACL alum Mavis Staples.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New tapings: Miranda Lambert, The Head And The Heart, Norah Jones

photo by Daniela Federici

Our 43rd season on PBS is getting off to a great start! We’ve already announced the Pretenders on March 13th, and we’re thrilled to report we’ll be taping Miranda Lambert on April 19th, The Head and the Heart on May 22nd and Norah Jones on June 11th.

Miranda Lambert makes her third appearance on ACL on April 19th in support of her sixth album The Weight of These Wings. Since the Lindale, Texas native’s first appearance in 2006, she has earned widespread acclaim, including two Grammy Awards, thirteen Country Music Association Awards, and an astonishing twenty-five Academy of Country Music Awards. Lambert is the reigning ACM Female Vocalist of the Year, having been bestowed this honor for seven consecutive years. A sprawling double-album, The Weight of These Wings debuted at #1 on Billboard’s country albums chart, as well as at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart, and spawned the current hit singles “Vice” and “We Should Be Friends.” Rolling Stone calls The Weight of These Wings Lambert’s “most ambitious LP…the sort of Great Album rock acts used to spit out regularly back in the day,” while the Boston Globe says the album “matches the take-no-prisoners attitude of her lyrics with music that travels unexpected routes but often winds up touching the soul.” The record ended up on over a dozen Best of 2016 lists, including those from Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Billboard, Spin and more.

photo by James Minchin

When Seattle band, The Head and The Heart, who first appeared on ACL in Season 37, regrouped in 2016 to start writing together again after a sabbatical, “it almost felt like we were a new band, trying things we hadn’t tried,” bassist  Chris Zasche recalls. “We stayed at a bungalow on the beach. We’d wake up, have coffee and go boogie boarding. We were ready and excited to be back together.” That renewed sense of purpose can be felt throughout Signs of Light, the group’s third album and first release for Warner Bros. Records. “This album isn’t about us now having achieved our dreams,” says vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Charity Rose Thielen. “The day we started being able to live off our art was the day we achieved our dreams, in my mind. This is the album where we really fell into our true voices as those artists.” Recorded in Nashville with producer Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Cage The Elephant), Signs of Light crackles with the upbeat, singalong energy of the band’s finest work. Throughout, the colors are brighter, the electric guitars are louder and the musical touchstones more universal. Lead single “All We Ever Knew,” written during the Let’s Be Still era but never captured to the band’s satisfaction until now, is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, while “Turn It Around” seems primed to be a future concert staple, matching its inspirational message with a lush and multi-layered soundscape. Blurt say the album “fulfills the aim the band’s handle appears to indicate. This is after all, music that connects with the head and the heart, and imparts a dual sense of resilience and delight in its wake.” Join us on May 22nd for The Head and The Heart’s second ACL taping.

photo by Danny Clinch

Norah Jones made her first appearance on the ACL stage in 2002, just prior to the release of her landmark debut Come Away With Me, which propelled her to the world stage, sweeping the 2003 Grammy Awards and signaling a paradigm shift away from the prevailing pop music of the time. Since then, Jones has sold 50 million albums worldwide and become a nine-time Grammy-winner, returning to ACL in 2007 and again in 2013. But when the Texas native first moved to New York City in the Summer of 1999,  it was with the hope of being a jazz singer and pianist, and her jazz influences — from Bill Evans and Miles Davis to Billie Holiday and Nina Simone — have always remained. Now Jones has come full circle with Day Breaks, her sixth album which finds her returning to the piano and her jazz roots, while still retaining her unmistakably unique sound that weaves together several bedrock styles of American music: country, folk, rock, soul, jazz. Day Breaks is a kindred spirit to Come Away With Me, though it is unquestionably the work of a mature artist who has lived life and grown immensely in her craft. The album features jazz luminaries including saxophonist Wayne Shorter, organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, and drummer Brian Blade, who played on Norah’s debut and became the backbone of the new album. Rolling Stone calls it “A marvelous consolidation, floating buoyantly between past tradition and her own unique present,” while MOJO declares Small-hours jazz perfection … her masterpiece to date … inspired and breathtaking.” Jones returns to the ACL stage on  June 11th.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.